About Us

We are Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati.  We love good food, we love to cook, and we love Trader Joe’s.  Time and time again, as we shopped the aisles at Trader Joe’s, we overheard people saying, “What do you do with quinoa?  How do you use tapenade?  What goes well with ricotta-stuffed chicken?” Before we knew it, we were writing a cookbook. That was 2007 and we now have NINE Trader Joe's cookbooks, whew!

Meet Deana
Lives in: Leucadia, CA a small surf and beach town in San Diego County with the motto "Keep Leucadia Funky."  I live here with my two kids (who love to help me cook) and two dogs (who are fascinated by my every move in the kitchen).

1000-foot view:  I'm the girl that gardens outside in her bare feet, sings loudly in the car and shower, cries at sad movies, buys pretty aprons but never remembers to put them on, goes from flip-flips to heels but has on occasion forgotten to change out of the flip flops before running off to a dressy event.  
 
Met Wona:  In engineering class at MIT.  In a roomful of sleep-deprived students in sweatpants, she was the only one wearing a sundress and a fashionable wide-brimmed hat, perfectly groomed. I rolled my eyes, never guessing we'd be great friends in no time.

My kids, ages 9 and 10: love that I'm a cookbook author and they pitch the book at every opportunity, including to cashiers at other grocery stores.

Secret talents:  I can weld, scuba dive, solve differential equations, and almost got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I haven't done any of these in years and might kill myself if I tried any of them now.

In my free time:  I'm doing yoga or pottery.  If you flip through our cookbook, the handmade pottery is Deana-made.

Want to learn:  To Flamenco dance, speak Italian, and do a cartwheel.

Favorite trip:  Two weeks of wilderness backpacking in Alaska, the time that I've felt most alive and connected to nature. 

Everyone knows: I'm the worst joke-teller in the universe.  I can never get the punchline right or I mess up and say it at the wrong time. Meanwhile, I'm laughing so hard I can't get the words out.  Friends and family say the process of watching me tell the joke is the only funny part. Ironically, Wona and I recently created a line of kids' Lunchbox Jokes, haha.

Most influential decade: I now realize that I'm a child of the 80's.  My children know all the words to "Video killed the Radio Star."  On Halloween, when my son asked me how zombies walk, I did the dance from Thriller. 

When I was little:  I was a very picky eater.  I also wouldn't eat beans because I misunderstood the teacher and thought she said that people were "human beans."

Favorite food TV: Top Chef and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I'm fascinated by people who seem to cook effortlessly in someone else's kitchen. 

Worst kitchen nightmare: Last night when I tore open a giant bag of brown rice and spilled the entire contents all over the stove and kitchen floor.  I'll be finding grains of rice for years...

Favorite kitchen gadgets: I discovered lime squeezers on a trip to Nicaragua.  I have never since struggled with juicing a lemon or lime.

Most requested food I make:  Stuffed grape leaves.  I haven't come up with a Trader Joe's version yet, but if jars of grape leaves ever show up on the shelves, I'll get to work.

Favorite movies: I'm always game for anything Monty Python or Jim Jarmusch.  There are certain movies I could watch over and over again such as "Last of the Mohicans", "Princess Bride," and "Sense & Sensibility." 

Favorite desserts: Anything involving dark chocolate, rosewater, or cardamom.

Favorite local eats: Swami's Café, 3rd Corner, The Roxy, or anything off the beaten path.  My kids always vote for sushi.

It surprises people to know that:  Wona and I both cooked all our baby food from scratch.

When I need cooking inspiration:  I call Wona or my Mom.  They're both always exploring new recipes or have some great wow-factor tip on presentation.

If you see me at Trader Joe's: I will occasionally stare at an item on the shelf for minutes on end.  I'm not crazy; just trying to come up with a good recipe.

Meet Wona
Name is pronounced: Wanna, as in wanna go out and play?  Most people guess it's whoa-na (long o), so I've learned to answer to that.  People also try to call me Wanda or Winona.

Met Deana: when I invited myself to her study group at MIT.  (Her rolling her eyes may have had something to do with my forewardness, in addition to my wardrobe.)  We might have been more effective study partners if we had spent more time actually studying instead of laughing and gorging on junk food.  But I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Lives in: San Francisco, CA with my husband and 2 children.  I love this city, but my only regret is not having a yard where I can grow fruits and vegetables.  Luckily, Deana regularly sends me care packages brimming with luscious fruits from her very productive trees.

Has lived in: Korea; Venezuela; east coast and west coast.

Most adventurous trip: backpacking and summiting Mt. Shasta (14,179 feet).  I also tried climbing Mt. Humboldt (16,306 feet) in Venezuela, but when a friend got altitude sickness, I happily volunteered to call it quits.

Longest trip: I spent 2 months backpacking through Vietnam, Thailand, and Bali.  After living out of a small backpack that summer, I returned to my cluttered apartment and felt the need to purge everything I owned.  I should have done it while the urge was fresh and strong!

Favorite place to shop other than Trader Joe's:  If I have the time, I love the Alemany Farmers' Market.  But when I'm in a rush, I walk or bike to one of many nearby markets within blocks of my house in the inner sunset of San Francisco.

Worst meal I ever cooked: In college, I was trying to invent a new type of lasagna using tuna.  One of the guests was my brother, who openly told me how awful it was.  The other guest was too polite to comment, but he never accepted any invitations for dinner again.

Favorite foods: Japanese, Indian, Thai, Italian (I had to throw that last one in for my husband).

Favorite celebrity chefs: Ina Garten and Ellie Krieger.  I love how downright GOOD Ina's foods and placesettings look.  I turn to Ellie for healthy versions of the foods we all love.

Most used kitchen gadget: Tongs.  I use them to toss salads or noodles, flip food in the frypan, or grab hot potatoes out of the oven.

Splurge kitchen gadget: Blendtec blender, the ones they use at Jamba Juice.  When I saw those crazy commercials where they blend up die-cast cars and entire guitars, I knew I had to have one.

In my free time: I cycle through house remodeling, sewing, and arts & crafts projects.  I'm currently making Roman blinds for our home.  One day, I hope to pick up golf again.  I used to golf religiously, but haven't touched a golf club since becoming a mom.

My vice: Procrastination.  Deana and I learned to pull all-nighters in college, and it's a bad habit I can't break!  That, and a messy office.  I have a theory that you're either born with a cooking gene, or a cleaning/organizing gene.  Deana is one of those rare birds that has both.  Not I!  Luckily, she doesn't look in the closets or under the bed when she comes to visit.